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Old 06-26-2008, 07:24 AM   #61
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Street bike to Hyder

alzyck - no problem riding a street bike to Hyder. I rode a BMW K1200LT to Hyder a couple of years ago. The only pucker moment I had was crossing a wood-planked bridge in the rain. It never felt squirrely, I was just worried that it might.

Go for it! It's a great ride and Hyder is a fun funky place.
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Old 06-26-2008, 07:51 AM   #62
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Bella Coola detour

If you guys can swing it, on the way back turn west out of Williams Lake and take the LONG (good) dirt road down to Bella Coola. Spend the night and catch the ferry down to Vancouver island and play. Ferry back to Seattle or Port Angeles and start the trek east. You won't regret it, and Bella Coola and the Ferryride are awesome.
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:16 AM   #63
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2008_06_26 Teslin, YT to Dawson City, YT

We had a relaxing morning at Teslin, drinking coffee for a half an hour before breakfast was served. We pulled out of the parking lot a little after 9:00 a.m. anticipating a two hour ride to Whitehorse. Although the sun was out, the air was cold, and we knew that once we got riding, we would freeze. So we put on all our heated gear and headed out.

Sure enough, we would have frozen without our heated gear. And soon the sun disappeared and dark clouds filled the sky. Occasionally a rain drop would grace our face shields. However, no worries (as the Australians say), we’d be finished riding for the day in just a short while!

We had checked the hotels and motels in Whitehorse, and a motel named the Riverview Inn caught our eye because it offered laundry facilities, Internet access and was “reasonably” (only compared to all the others) priced. We pulled into their parking lot shortly before noon and went inside. Oh-oh – big problem – they’re full – and so is EVERY other hotel and motel in town. There is a big baseball tournament going on. The girl behind he counter offered to try to find something for us down the road if we would pay for the telephone charges. We would. She had already called all around town for another customer and verified that there was nothing available. So she started calling hotels down the road in the direction we were traveling. Carmack Hotel, two hours away, was booked. Another lodge 45 minutes on the other side of Carmack – no longer is accepting guests. We asked her to call Dawson City, 360 or so miles away – the hotel she called had one room available! Here we stood, shortly after noon, on a day we had planned to be a short day, and we have to ride another 360 miles or so that three adult males can share a single room! This wasn’t what we had in mind for today!

We start out towards Dawson City, stopping every 120 miles or so for fuel and a stretch. Within an hour or so of leaving Whitehorse, the temperature began to rise. Yes, we rode straight north, and the temperature began to rise! At the next gas stop, we removed all of our heated gear. The sun was shining, there were billowy clouds in the sky, and the photographic opportunities abounded – I could have taken dozens of pictures of lakes and streams and clouds and forest (mountains have pretty much disappeared for now). But because we had such a lengthy ride starting so late in the day, and because taking pictures involves dismounting from the bike, taking off my helmet, taking off my gloves, walking back to the spot where I had viewed the scene I wanted, taking several pictures, walking back to the bike, putting on my helmet and putting on my gloves before remounting the bike, I decided to forego taking pictures today. I’m confident there will be other days with rivers and lakes and clouds and forests!

At 6:30 p.m. we pulled into Dawson City. Let me say this: Dawson City looks like a Hollywood set! Dirt streets, brilliantly colored buildings, bars and saloons all over the place – it certainly seems like quite a town! I’ll wander around taking pictures of it tomorrow. We checked into the Eldorado Hotel and were delighted to find that they could give us two rooms for tonight, but nothing for tomorrow night. A short while after we checked in I sauntered down the street to another hotel and found that they could provide rooms for us tomorrow night. So we’re set up for the next two nights in Dawson City.

All of us did our laundry, and at 10:00 p.m., in completely full daylight, we started looking for a place to eat. All the restaurants save one were closed, so we had a Chinese meal. It’s now past midnight, it’s still totally light outside, and I’m ready for bed!

Fuel mileage today: 48.4 mpg (this is yesterday afternoon’s consumption, riding 75 miles per hour into a stiff headwind), 59.7, 58.2 g and 55 miles per gallon.

We’re spending tomorrow in Dawson City, Yukon.
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Old 06-27-2008, 04:11 AM   #64
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Oh Man

Too bad you guys missed Dust 2 Dawson 2008. 150 Dual sport riders just hanging out and have a great time in the Yukon for a couple days.
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:35 AM   #65
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We met at the BMW school

Hi, John! We met at the BMW school in Greenville last March. I think you were still planning a solo trip at that time. Glad you found two collegial ridding buddies. As we discussed, I was returning from my Alaska trip about the same time you were leaving for yours. Myblubeemer gave me the head's up to your thread, and I have really, really enjoyed reading it. The writing is well-done and the photos are great. I have already started looking into the Lumix, as per your recommendation.

I am concerned about your reluctance to go all the way to Deadhorse. I fear that you will regret it if you do not do so. I let tales of the haul road psych me out before hand, but I think you are well-prepared to give it a go! Frankly, the section at the very beginning, just north of Fairbanks, was as difficult as anything we encountered later, so you can see how it feels and turn around if you are not comfortable. It does get more difficult when it is raining, but it was still very doable two weeks ago. It was not badly rutted or pot-holed, and there was ongoing maintenance throughout the trip.

I would advise making sure you have places to stay in advance. We spent nights at Yukon River Camp, Coldfoot Camp and Deadhorse. If there are no rooms available, I did notice a group of riders camping out at Coldfoot, near the restaurant. You mentioned your Goldwing. As I was crossing the Yukon River, I passed a couple from Orlando, Florida riding to Deadhorse two up on a Goldwing. They seemed to be doing just fine, and it gave me confidence to know that my steed (a KLR 650) was much better suited for the trip, as is your Dakar. I also met an Indian rider, with Dubai plates, who rode from Sao Paulo to Deadhorse and was heading back. He was on a vintage 4 cylinder Yamaha.

As to the very unfortunate incident in which a KLR 650 rider was killed near Gobbler's Knob, I talked to the truck driver who witnessed the accident and I surveyed the scene as we passed two days later. It was not diffiult or technical riding. I speculate that the rider might have been tired, the scenery was beautiful, and he became briefly inattentive. There is no shoulder, and the edge of the road is gravel with a steep incline, so if you run off the road, it is hard to keep the bike up. However, you have been in many similar situations previously on this journey.

Also, as you get closer to Deadhorse, the gravel gets a bit deeper and the wind from the Arctic Ocean gets stronger, so the riding is a bit more difficult. Just remember what you have learned--shift your weight back to give the rear wheel traction, slow down, don't make sudden moves, look well ahead, and trust the bike to do the rest.

Whether you choose to go to the end of the road or not, this is a great adventure and you a great mentor. I can't wait to recreate your route some day. Please keep the posts coming. Note, however, that you will have neither cell nor internet service north of Fairbanks.
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Old 06-27-2008, 05:47 PM   #66
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2008_06_27 Dawson City, YT

Today was a day of rest.

Bikes parked and at rest...

Ray and Doug are early birds, so despite the off day, they got up at sunrise and went off to eat breakfast. While eating, they met a local named Jimmy Simpson, age 82, who has had a fascinating life. He came to the north country from Tennessee in the 1950s. His careers have been as diverse as gold miner and country singer! Ray bought one of his CDs and a book that he’s hoping to get personally autographed.

I, on the other hand, slept in until 10:00 a.m. and enjoyed every second of it! After getting up, I joined Ray and Doug for coffee and we went on the Internet to try to find Ray some new tires. I’ve had great luck using Skype this trip, and it costs between 2 and 5 cents a minute! If the cell phone would work (which it usually doesn’t), it would cost 79 cents a minute plus long distance charges. So Skype is the only option I’m currently using. I located a Suzuki dealer in Fairbanks, called him, found out he had tires for Ray’s bike, reserved a pair of tires and set up an appointment for Tuesday morning! So Ray is happy!

We had to move to the Midnight Sun Hotel because the Eldorado Hotel didn’t have any rooms for us tonight. The usual room rate for the Midnight Sun is $99/night; however, if you ride a motorcycle to get here, it drops to $69 per night!

That’s a significant motorcycle discount!

Later, we wandered around town.

Doug, surreptitiously looking to see if anyone notices where he's been!

Honda ST1100 with sidecar and trailer...

Yukon River...

Northern construction techniques...

There is a canoe and kayak race called the Yukon River Quest that starts in Whitehorse and ends in Dawson City. The total distance covered is 460 miles.

The racers left Whitehorse on Wednesday, and the first ones arrived early this afternoon.

That is one reason that the hotels in Whitehorse and Dawson City have been so booked up!

We are going to ride the Top of the World Highway tomorrow and our schedule calls for us to spend the night in Delta Junction. Then on to Fairbanks and the Arctic Circle. Doug had initially thought about going to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay, but having ridden on some wet and sloppy dirt roads on our way up, he’s lost enthusiasm for over 900 miles of potential muddy roads described as having the consistency of wet oatmeal. So we think the Arctic Circle might suffice! However, that in itself is a 393 mile round trip from Fairbanks, much of which is on the Dalton Highway and its gravel and potential mud, so we’ll certainly be exposed to the glorious northern Alaska roads!
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Old 06-27-2008, 11:05 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by JohnSnyder
Today was a day of rest.

Doug, surreptitiously looking to see if anyone notices where he's been!

Anyone else hearing banjo music?

Awesome pictures! Stunning quality for sure. I have been to Alaska 1x (not on a bike) and must get back, soon.
Ride safe and thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-28-2008, 11:44 PM   #68
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2008_06_28 Dawson City, YT to Delta Junction, AK

When we left Dawson City this morning, the temperature was 42 F. We rode about half a mile to the Yukon River where we had to wait a short while for a ferry. Once the cars and campers were on, we rode on and took up the empty spaces. However, one very interesting event occurred. A fox tried to get onto the ferry with us! He was determined to cross the river! The crew had to shoo him away before they could raise the ramp to depart!

This seems like strange behavior for a wild animal. We wonder whether he might have rabies. Of course, I don’t even know if animals this far north even get rabies! I did get a picture of the fox at maximum zoom from quite a distance, but I’ll include it because of the uniqueness of the event.

On the other side of the Yukon River began the Top of the World Highway, about 135 miles (out of 182 miles) is gravel road. This was our first extended experience with riding on gravel roads. All three of us bought dual sport bikes, and they certainly worked well today. On the Canadian side of the border, we rode at a speed of between 35 and 50 miles an hour. The road was extremely well maintained, being very smooth and having no potholes of significance. On the American side of the border, the road was not nearly as well maintained. It was not as smooth, there were potholes, and periodically we encountered sections in which the gravel was extremely thick, making for some squirrelly riding! However, considering the remoteness of the area, I’d give the Canadian road a 10 out of 10 and the American road 7 out of 10.

I will admit to being somewhat disappointed in the ride. In everything I’ve read there have been remarks on the beauty one encounters during this ride. Certainly the scenery was beautiful – in a pastoral, serene and placid sort of way.

Top of the World Highway...

I was expecting dramatic and stark landscapes, tall, snow-covered mountains, rushing rivers and beautiful lakes – and that wasn’t the way it was. Riding this road proved to be a calm, reflective experience rather than an adrenaline rush!

On the American side of the border

is a town named Boundary.

I believe it has a population of 2! And neither of them was home! We stopped at the little store for coffee, but it was locked.

So we admired what we presumed were the historic relics of a previous generation

and set out again on our way.

The next stop was the vibrant town of Chicken!

I’m not sure what the population of Chicken is, but it might be 10 or 12! We stopped there to warm up and eat lunch.

Although I didn’t have any, the little restaurant had the most amazing home made pies I’ve ever seen. The apple pie was about 2 - 3 inches thick and looked absolutely DELICIOUS! However, I went for the reindeer bratwurst! We met a half dozen or so bikers at this restaurant that we had also seen in Dawson City and had fun comparing experiences.

After leaving Chicken we rode for a while before encountering a moose. This moose was standing on the left side of the road, appearing to be planning on crossing the road. I was in the lead and I slowed down to about 20 miles per hour to give him plenty of time to cross. Instead, he turned and started trotting/running up the road in the direction we were going! I was going 25 miles an hour, and the moose was ahead of me running at 25 miles an hour! He must have run this way for a couple hundred yards before turning off into the bush! We never stopped, so we never had an opportunity to take a picture.

We continued riding on the Top of the World Highway until it intersected with the Alaska Highway, at which point we turned west and rode another 100 miles to the little town of Delta Junction, AK. Delta Junction is unique in that it is the terminus of the Alaska Highway. Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, AK – something over 1400 miles in length. We don’t have any idea why Delta Junction was selected to be the beginning/end of the Alaska Highway – why not Fairbanks or Timbucktoo, AK? The road continues on to Fairbanks, but it’s no longer called the Alaska Highway. I’m sure there’s a great bureaucratic reason for this, but it’s unlikely that mere mortals can make much sense of it!

After arriving in Delta Junction we stopped for gas (my mileage today was 63 mpg riding on the Top of the World Highway, and 50 mpg riding at 70+ miles per hour on the Alaska Highway). To date, we have not seen many KLR650s. That all changed in an instant. After filling up with gas, Doug joined a convention of guys riding KLR650s!

They compared their complaints, their observations and their opinions. However, EVERYONE else without exception said that their KLR650 had plenty of power and got great gas mileage, leaving our lonesome hero, Doug, to wonder what he’s doing wrong!

The air temperature ranged between the very low 40s and the upper 50s today, and, yes, it rained (just in case you were wondering). We have worn raingear and our heated Gerbing clothing for the last week at least, if not longer!

A few individuals have wanted feedback on the MEFO Explorer tires. I've ridden on this set of tires for over 4200 miles without any issues or problems except that the back tire is showing some cracks.

Front tire...

Back tire, showing some cracks...

Tomorrow we’re off to Fairbanks, AK although we’ll be staying in North Pole, AK because there’s nothing available in Fairbanks for the three consecutive days we’ll be there. We are now on Pacific Time, which is 4 hours different from Eastern Time.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:43 PM   #69
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2008_06_29 Delta Junction, AK to North Pole, AK

This morning we got up and drove about 100 miles (getting 55 miles per gallon) to North Pole, AK.

We had to get a motel in this town 13 miles east of Fairbanks because none of the ten or so motels we contacted in Fairbanks could give us two rooms for three days! The motel in North Pole, AK at which we’re staying seems to be geared towards itinerant construction workers! While it is superficially clean, it is non-pretentious (i.e. run down), hopefully safe and probably not very quiet. But it is available, and it does cost about a third of what we would have paid in Fairbanks. It’s not a place I would choose for my honeymoon, but I’m not on my honeymoon!

This afternoon we went to Pioneer Park in Fairbanks

Ray posing with polar bears at his granddaughters' request...

to see the Airplane Museum they have there.

We stayed to eat at the Alaska Salmon Bake they have on the grounds. For $31.00 one gets a buffet of salmon, halibut, cod and roast beef, salad, rolls, drinks, coffee and desert.

We all enjoyed it!

Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, we’ll ride up the Dalton Highway as far as the Arctic Circle. The return trip is over 400 miles, a majority of which is on gravel road, so it will be a long day.
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:55 AM   #70
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2008_06_30 North Pole to Arctic Circle and back

This says it all...

Today was the reason we bought dual sport bikes! The sun was shining, the sky was the usual brilliant blue, the clouds were fluffy and white and the temperature was cool when we left our itinerant workers’ accommodations. We rode to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. I had grits, Doug had biscuits and sausage gravy, and Ray had a more conventional breakfast of eggs with all the trimmings. I find it rather amazing that one can get grits and sausage gravy this far north, but the “Family Restaurant” in North Pole, Alaska serves these to a considerable number of customers.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. we started our ride for the Arctic Circle. The GPS showed the round trip to be a little over 400 miles, and it suggested that we would return to our luxury accommodations about 12 hours later. The first 90 or 100 miles were paved. We stopped once to view the Alaska Pipeline display.

Then, when we began riding on the Dalton Highway,

the fun began.

The good news is that the sun was still out, the sky was still blue and the clouds were still white and fluffy. Dalton Highway turned into a dirt/gravel road within milliseconds of the sign announcing the highway. There were potholes, loose gravel and long stretches of wet ground (water trucks deliberately pour water on the road to keep down the dust). However, the sun was still out, etc., etc., etc, so the riding conditions did not dampen our spirits. There are, interspersed in this gravel road, several stretches of pavement of up to 10 or so miles in length. Some of this paved road is rough and needing repair; however, one stretch of 10 miles or so (just south of the Yukon River) is a magnificent road with flawless pavement and wide shoulders, gentle grades and long sections in which it appeared that the road was ready to be converted to four lanes! This was as good a road as I’ve ever ridden on! But be assured that it didn’t last!

Immediately after crossing the Yukon River

we stopped at a motel/restaurant/gas station for lunch and gas. Prices were high, but considering the remoteness of the location, reasonable.

Pipeline near the Yukon River bridge...

We continued on, stopping once to view Finger Mountain.

Landscape near Finger Mounain...

Incidentally, the flies and mosquitoes were so bad that we didn’t even take off our helmets! While in the parking lot we began talking with another motorcyclist.

He said that he was almost out of gas. He had completely missed the 10 acre or so motel/restaurant/gasoline compound just north of the Yukon River! I have been carrying a couple of gallons of spare gasoline since Banff National Park, so I was able to give him sufficient gas to get him to Coldfoot where he could fill up!

We continued on up to Dalton Highway Mile 115 which is the geographic location of the Arctic Circle. We took a number of pictures.

The lowlight was when Doug’s bike tipped over!

His kickstand is too tall, and he had moved the bike to get a picture in front of the sign. The bike appeared to be stable on its side stand, but it wasn’t, and when Doug’s back was turned, it fell to the right! Although Doug’s ego might have been bruised a bit, the bike suffered no harm! Doug’s been interested in Alaska for a long time, but his biggest dream was to reach the Arctic Circle. Today he fulfilled that dream.

If the day would have stopped right there, it would have been great! Unfortunately, we had to ride all the way back! So…we turned around and rode for an over an hour to get back to the Yukon River motel/restaurant/gas station complex to get more gas and something to drink. There we met a fellow and his wife who were on their way back from Deadhorse. This man had converted his Honda GL1500 Gold Wing into a trike, and he and his wife had ridden up from the lower 48 pulling a huge, 1500 lb. camper trailer.

Ray took this picture...

He had lugged this thing all the way up to the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse, and once he got there, his wife was so wet and tired and cold and muddy that she refused to use it! None of us has ever seen a motorcycle trailer as large as this one, and to think he pulled it 450 or so miles up the Dalton Highway, only to not use it! Wow! His Gold Wing had suffered some damage on the way to Deadhorse, having lost its left foot peg (I wonder how he shifted and what he did with his left foot) and both front rotor covers.

When we left to cross the Yukon River going south, Ray asked if I would take a picture of Doug and him riding across the bridge.

When Ray was growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Belmont, NC, he had developed a fanciful interest in Alaska. Some time later Johnny Horton released his song “North to Alaska” and the first verse is as follows:

Big Sam left Seattle in the year of '92,
With George Pratt, his partner, and brother, Billy, too.
They crossed the Yukon River and found the bonanza gold.
Below that old white mountain just a little south-east of Nome.

Since Ray heard that song, he has had a real interest in the Yukon River, and he wanted the occasion that he personally crossed the Yukon River documented!

The remaining 150 or so miles back to our motel

were tough. It got cold, it started to rain, we got stuck behind big trucks, it got muddy, the road hadn’t improved any from morning to night, and we were tired! We finally got back to the Family Restaurant in North Pole almost exactly 12 hours after we had started. Ray and Doug were too tired to joke! It was a long, long day! The Dalton Highway really beats you down! We met some more motorcyclists in the restaurant. They were riding Gold Wings. They told us of one Gold Wing which had been so damaged as to not be able to continue. They also said that they had gone to the Arctic Circle yesterday, and that they would NEVER do it again on a Gold Wing! I think we made the correct choice with our dual sports!

Today on the Dalton Highway my 2005 BMW F650GS Dakar got 63 miles per gallon.

Tomorrow we’re in Fairbanks, hopefully going on a river boat cruise and getting some motorcycle maintenance done.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:05 AM   #71
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Man, we are going to have to get together back in NC and compare notes! Right now I am in Rapid City, SD on my way to Mount Rushmore. It seems like you are pretty much taking the same trip I did. I love your pictures! The weather did not allow me to photograph as much as I would have liked. Ride safe and enjoy.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:59 AM   #72
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Fantastic trip guys and every single photo is fantastic.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:39 AM   #73
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Best Alaska ride report yet! Thanks for sharing
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Old 07-01-2008, 11:12 PM   #74
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2008_07_01 Fairbanks, AK

This morning we awoke to heavily overcast skies and rain – not heavy mist or a drizzle, but real rain! My first thought was, “I wonder what I’d be thinking now if I had ridden half way to Prudhoe Bay yesterday and I had the other half to ride today – in the rain – on a muddy road – in the cold?! My answer was pretty obvious! “I wouldn’t be one bit happy!” However, I didn’t have to worry about those thoughts! We had definitely made the right decision for us yesterday by riding to the Arctic Circle and returning! There was no wistful thinking that maybe we should have continued on to Prudhoe Bay. Ray is 66, I am 65 and Doug is 53 – we’ve learned to be realistic!

So, after breakfast, Ray decided that he wanted to do laundry – and volunteered to do Doug’s and mine as well! However, while Ray was getting started, Doug and I spent well over an hour researching lodging for us for the next four or five nights and making reservations. Then Doug and I rode into Fairbanks to go in search of a helmet face shield for Doug and some rear sprocket components for me. We were unsuccessful on both accounts. However, while at the Harley Davidson/Honda/Victory/BMW shop we encountered a BMW rider. He had just ridden up the Dempster Highway in the Yukon to Inuvik. While in Inuvik, he dropped his bike, and in lifting it back upright, he tore his right biceps muscle. He rode back to Dawson City, consulted several doctors, and now is in Fairbanks, getting ready to ride the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay tomorrow. This man is no youngster – he appeared to be in his late 50s or early 60s. Doug and I were not able to relate to someone of that age who would voluntarily subject himself to such punishment! Of course, I presume that is quite a contingent of individuals who would say the same thing about us!!

This afternoon was spent on the Riverboat Discovery ( This is a paddle wheel boat

that takes passengers on a 3.5 hour tour of the Chena river, down to where it joins the Tanana River. I had done this twice before while on Princess Cruise tours and I had really enjoyed it. So Doug joined me and I did it again! We saw Alaskan bush pilots demonstrating their skill with short take offs

and landings and flying float planes.

We saw Iditarod racers training their sled dogs,

Native Americans showing genuine works of art (the seamstress of these pieces has a garment permanently displayed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC)

and Native Americans demonstrating skills perfected over centuries!

We saw homes in which every single aspect of the building (cutting down trees, skinning the logs, building the house) was done by hand by the owner, using only hand tools and a chainsaw,

as well as modern luxury homes.

One of the most fascinating things to me was going to where the Chena River (a non-glacier river)

joined the glacier-fed Tanana River. The line of demarcation between the two rivers is amazing!

Tomorrow we’re backtracking to Delta Junction, then heading south on the Richardson Highway (Highway 4) and then west for about 125 miles on the dirt/gravel Denali Highway (Highway 8). We’re spending the night at Carlo Creek Lodge, north of Cantwell.
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Old 07-01-2008, 11:49 PM   #75
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Sounds like you guys are having a great time. I just got back from a bit over 3 weeks in AK on the 6/20.

If you get a chance, grab a burger in Delta Junction at the Poor Boys Cafe. Great burgers and they are huge.
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